Archive for February, 2021

Lesson 586 How Media Divides Us

  1. Today, most everyone tends to join only the social media platforms and information sources that reinforce their own beliefs.
  2. Thus, we all tend to join a digital media universe that brings us the most comfort.
  3. Trump followers have their own universe.
  4. Republicans and Democrats can each have their own universe.
  5. Independents and others can have theirs too.
  6. In fact, everyone probably is already living in their own “media comfort zone.”
  7. So, from now on, power-hungry politicians will be using social media platforms and biased news sources to talk directly with their followers, and other people may not have any idea what they are saying to each other…or planning to do!

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Higher Ed was in big trouble long before the pandemic… according to the Economist, the world’s premier news magazine. So, after this pandemic what can we expect from a university education? 

   1. Universities have a huge challenge in front of them. They all will be coming back from COVID with many issues to address, and a variety of game plans.  

   2. Big issues include: examining the traditional concepts of academic freedom and tenure; determining the role of part-time faculty; defining how freedom of speech relates to hate speech and extremism of all kinds; dealing with how various views of individual freedom can function in a modern university; etc.  

   3. The pandemic experience proved that some courses can work well on-line, but others don’t. Most full-time students will continue to want some version of a campus experience.      

  4. Higher Ed journalists report that many professors, staff, and students are experiencing some level of pandemic-produced burn-out. Administrators will need to take this possibility into account, and in many cases provide help.  

  5. Most families will want to avoid huge student loans. Options include: attending a community college for the first two years; choosing a lower-cost public institution;  investigating short-term certificate programs; finding short-term degree programs; etc. “Gap years” also become viable options.    

  6. Some institutions will consider organizing subject matter differently. Interdisciplinary courses and programs often suggest that some traditional academic departments are “old school” ideas. There are many alternative and creative possibilities.    

 7. Many faculty, students and staff discovered during the pandemic that they can work effectively from home. This could free-up space in many institutions for faculty and staff conferences, innovative classes, and a variety of other creative uses. 

8. Topics such as global leadership, media literacy, international issues, and community engagement, have recently taken on new significance, and could find more prominent places in the curriculum.   

9. Many institutions will be rethinking athletics. Some will stay with intramural programs. Others will eliminate specific sports. Still others might cut entire intercollegiate programs. And all will be studying their ongoing relationships with donors… and the serious financial implications of big changes in athletics.            

Each university or college will need to determine its own future. Some institutions will fail. Others will seek and find mergers. Most will face some level of price objection, and all will be different in significant ways. And they all will need to factor-in the internationalization of everything.  

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Lesson 584 Journalism Realities

We must remember most news outlets are businesses, and journalists must find something to report every day.

1. Ironically, our previous president met that need by replacing daily press conferences with headline-grabbing tweets, and by shouting tantalizing sound-bites on his daily walks to his helicopter.

2. Happily, Biden restored daily press conferences and made himself and cabinet members available to the press. However, many observers have been voicing their frustration with very aggressive questioning coming so soon from reporters, and sometimes very contentious stories.

3. Here are four journalism realities: a. Finding something to report everyday inevitably results in aggressive questioning and reporting. b. Finding new ways to report the same topics everyday can result in consumer confusion. c. Reporters are always trying to “scoop” their competitors to earn headlines. d. Opinion bloggers, biased news outlets, and many commercial organizations put their basic interests out front… often resulting in “fake news,” and more confusion,

Bottom line: As news consumers we must all select our information sources and favorite journalists very carefully. Further, the need for media consumer education is more important than ever… in all our schools, community organizations, and associations.

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